November 13, 2005

News release

Time to give NAFTA six months' notice

If the United States continues to ignore NAFTA rulings on softwood lumber, Canada should respond by pulling out of the flawed deal, said the president of the North Okanagan Labour Council.

"Under the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a country can withdraw with six months' notice. Canada should give notice to the United States that unless it abides by NAFTA rulings on softwood lumber and also agrees to delete the provisions of Chapter 11 from the agreement, NAFTA will be history," said David Doran.

Chapter 11 is the section that gives transnational companies the right to sue countries for perceived losses caused by government regulations and decisions. "This would not be a bluff," said Doran.

"Without these changes, there is no advantage to staying in the free trade deal anyway."

The United States continues to inflict damage on Canada's lumber industry with punishing duties that NAFTA panels have ruled are too high and unjustified.

"Why do we stay in a deal with a bully partner that will only play by its own rules," asked Doran. "Our politicians correctly criticize the American administration for defying NAFTA rulings, but George Bush isn't listening. He'll only listen when we back up our words with actions."

Chapter 11 has been an even longer-term irritant.

Ethyl Corporation was paid $13 million by the Canadian government in a settlement after the company challenged the government's ban of the gasoline additive MMT in 1997.

"It's ridiculous that a company making a dangerous fuel additive should be paid millions of dollars when our government takes action to protect the health of Canadians," Doran said.

"That UPS, a foreign-based courier, would even consider attempting to claim damages because the public post office is supposedly stealing its business is corporate greed at its worst and an affront to Canadian sovereignty," Doran added.

"It's time for Canada to put an end to American bullying and reclaim our own destiny by giving notice that we are pulling out of NAFTA."



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